The Star-Ledger reports that both houses of the New Jersey legislature have approved bill A3466, known as the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” and sent it to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature. According to supporters of the bill, it would give New Jersey the strictest anti-bullying statute in the nation. The measure fills gaps in the state’s first anti-bullying law, passed in 2002, that encouraged school districts to set up anti-bullying programs but did not mandate it. The measure would require training for most public school employees on how to spot bullying and mandate that all districts form “school safety teams” to review complaints. Superintendents would have to report incidents of bullying to the state Board of Education, which would grade schools and districts on their efforts to combat it. Public colleges and universities would also be required to include a policies on bullying in their codes of conduct.
The bill passed the Assembly 71-1, with five abstentions, and 30-0 in the Senate. The only lawmaker to vote against the bill was Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), who objected to the fact that it explicitly mentions categories of students subject to bullying, although it also includes a catch-all clause to include any “distinguishing characteristics.” “Why can’t it just say if someone does X or Y or Z, that counts as bullying?” said Carroll. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey ACLU, said the bill is “90 percent good” but should not give school officials authority to discipline students for things that happens outside of school, which she said would be unconstitutional.
Source: Star-Ledger, 11/23/10, By Matt Friedman
[Editor's Note: Background on New Jersey's anti-bullying legislation is available below.]